Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Blankenship v. Baker Foods Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Eastern Division

December 21, 2018

JOSEPH A. and GURLENE BLANKENSHIP, Plaintiffs,
v.
BAKER FOODS, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ANNEMARIE CARNEY AXON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Gurlene Blankenship fell over a floor mat while shopping in a Piggly Wiggly grocery store operated by Defendant Baker Foods, Inc. (“Baker”). (Doc. 4 at 2-3). Mrs. Blankenship and her husband, Joseph, allegedly suffered injuries as a result of this fall and filed suit against Baker to recover damages. (Id. at 6-7). In the amended complaint, the Blankenships allege that the floor mat located at the store exit had not been properly laid, causing Mrs. Blankenship to trip and fall. (Id. at 3-5). The parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment, which have been fully briefed. (Doc. 30; Doc. 36).

         For the reasons explained below, the court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Baker's motion for summary judgment.

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the court must first determine if the parties genuinely dispute any material facts, and if they do not, whether the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A disputed fact is material if the fact “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law, ” and a dispute is genuine “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         The Rule 56 standard also applies when addressing cross-motions for summary judgment and the court must review each motion separately to determine whether either party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. United States v. Oakley, 744 F.2d 1553, 1555 (11th Cir. 1984) (“Cross-motions for summary judgment will not, in themselves, warrant the court in granting summary judgment unless one of the parties is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on facts that are not genuinely disputed.”).

         II. FACTS

         On January 22, 2016, Joseph and Gurlene Blankenship visited Alabama to attend a family member's funeral. (Doc. 32-2 at 9). After the service, Mr. and Mrs. Blankenship traveled to Childersburg and stopped at a Piggly Wiggly to purchase groceries. (Id. at 9-10). With their purchases made, the Blankenships proceeded toward the exit. (Id. at 10-11). Mrs. Blankenship turned her attention to sale items located near the exit and tripped on a floor mat, causing her to fall against a set of automatic sliding doors. (Doc. 4 at 6; Doc. 32-2 at 10). Mrs. Blankenship alleges that she fell as a result of a “puck” in the edge of the mat on the floor. (Doc. 32-2 at 19-20). Prior to the fall, Mrs. Blankenship did not look down or notice any irregularities in the mat. (Id. at 19). As a result of her fall, Mrs. Blankenship claims to have suffered severe injuries to her spine and right shoulder. (Doc. 4 at 6).

         A few hours before Mrs. Blankenship fell, a Baker employee mopped the floor next to the store exit. (Doc. 32-4 at 3-5). Once he finished mopping, the employee returned to the floor mat and used his right foot to straighten it, “making sure everything was stable where it was at.” (Id. at 6). Although the employee testified that nothing about the floor mat's condition warranted taking additional precautions (id. at 10), he acknowledged the possibility that the “puck” in the rug could have been present at the time Mrs. Blankenship fell (id. at 6-7).

         Baker preserved a video surveillance tape of the incident and produced a copy to Mrs. Blankenship along with its initial disclosures. (Doc. 32-2 at 19; Doc. 11 at 1-2). Neither Mrs. Blankenship nor Mr. Blankenship noticed a defect in the floor mat while inside the store, but both identified a small “puck” while reviewing video footage months later. (Doc. 32-3 at 6; Doc. 32-2 at 19). Mrs. Blankenship further testified that she would have “probably” noticed the floor mat's condition had she looked down. (Doc. 32-2 at 19).

         On January 1, 2017, the Blankenships filed this action in the Circuit Court of Talladega County, Alabama. (Doc. 1 at 17). Baker subsequently removed this case to federal court based on diversity jurisdiction. (Id. at 2). The Blankenships amended their complaint to correctly designate “Baker Foods, Inc.” as a defendant. (Doc. 4 at 1). The parties' motions for summary judgment are currently before the court.

         III. DISCUSSION

         The amended complaint alleges the following claims against Baker: negligence (Count I); willful and wanton conduct (Count II); negligent training, retention, and supervision (Count III); and spoliation of evidence (Count IV). (Id. at 7-10). Mr. Blankenship also brings a loss of consortium claim derivative of his wife's injuries. (Id. at 6). Baker moved for summary judgment on all counts of the amended complaint. (Doc. 31). The Blankenships moved for summary judgment on Counts I, II, and III of their amended complaint. (Doc. 38).

         A. Premi ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.